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Eukaryot Cell. 2013 Mar;12(3):460-8. doi: 10.1128/EC.00329-12. Epub 2013 Jan 25.

Conserved gene regulatory function of the carboxy-terminal domain of dictyostelid C-module-binding factor.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Biology, Institute of Pharmacy, University of Jena, Jena, Germany.


C-module-binding factor A (CbfA) is a jumonji-type transcription regulator that is important for maintaining the expression and mobility of the retrotransposable element TRE5-A in the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum. CbfA-deficient cells have lost TRE5-A retrotransposition, are impaired in the ability to feed on bacteria, and do not enter multicellular development because of a block in cell aggregation. In this study, we performed Illumina RNA-seq of growing CbfA mutant cells to obtain a list of CbfA-regulated genes. We demonstrate that the carboxy-terminal domain of CbfA alone is sufficient to mediate most CbfA-dependent gene expression. The carboxy-terminal domain of CbfA from the distantly related social amoeba Polysphondylium pallidum restored the expression of CbfA-dependent genes in the D. discoideum CbfA mutant, indicating a deep conservation in the gene regulatory function of this domain in the dictyostelid clade. The CbfA-like protein CbfB displays ∼25% sequence identity with CbfA in the amino-terminal region, which contains a JmjC domain and two zinc finger regions and is thought to mediate chromatin-remodeling activity. In contrast to CbfA proteins, where the carboxy-terminal domains are strictly conserved in all dictyostelids, CbfB proteins have completely unrelated carboxy-terminal domains. Outside the dictyostelid clade, CbfA-like proteins with the CbfA-archetypical JmjC/zinc finger arrangement and individual carboxy-terminal domains are prominent in filamentous fungi but are not found in yeasts, plants, and metazoans. Our data suggest that two functional regions of the CbfA-like proteins evolved at different rates to allow the occurrence of species-specific adaptation processes during genome evolution.

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